The woman I am

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two women in colourful clothing looking at a camera

There's a very exciting year ahead at the International Slavery Museum and yesterday I got to meet the women behind the venue's latest project with the working title 'The woman I am'.

The project is led by photo journalist Lee Karen Stow, whose exhibition '42' Women of Sierra Leone opens at the museum in March, to coincide with International Women's Day. In addition to taking photographs herself, Lee has run a number of workshops in Sierra Leone and the UK, teaching women digital photography skills.

This week she has been working with the Liverpool Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) group on the photography workshops for 'The woman I am'. The group have are hoping to exhibit the photographs they have taken in the new centre for the Women's Organisation, which opens soon in the city. A selection of their photographs will also be featured on the '42' exhibition website.

When I caught up with them they were taking portrait photographs and had brought in some fabulous colourful clothes from their home countries to wear - and dress Lee and volunteer Abi in! Some photos from the day are in the WAST photography workshop set on Flickr.

Update 02/03/2011: You can now see the online exhibition of 'The Woman I am' on the website.

Lee told me that it had been a very successful week:

"This week about sixteen women from all parts of the world have taken part - from Tibet, the Congo, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana. Women who maybe have done a little bit of photography before, snapshots, but they’ve never really focussed on using the camera to explore the things they like and things about themselves.

I have to give enormous thanks and credit to these women because they’ve come here this week, many of them are going through horrendous difficulties either with red tape, forms or legal implications; or stress or worries about back home or their future here.

And yet they’ve come in, picked up the cameras, listened to a few basic instructions and they’ve gone out and they’ve taken some really good pictures. Their energy has just been a complete overwhelming buzz to the class, so it's been a great experience, I’ve really enjoyed it and I think they have too.

There is a stereotypical view of asylum seekers. But if people look beyond the stereotype they will see women just like us with problems and dreams, wanting to make a better life for themselves."